And so we reach the end of featured players for the project…I’ll be taking a few days off before launching Phase 2: Team Posts.
1988 Donruss Baseball's Best
Melido Perez’s early career was an interesting one. As far as I can tell, beyond being Pascual Perez’s brother, I’m not sure he was ever widely heralded when he was a Royals prospect. If he was, the numbers don’t really bear it out. 1987 was definitely a banner year for him, however, as he went a combined 12-8 with a 3.09 ERA with a combined 177 K’s in 198 innings between High A and AA. Given that year, the Royals were ready to bump him up to the majors at the end of 1987.
1988 Donruss The Rookies
I know Melido’s 1988 Donruss pictured him with the Royals (I can’t find any other cards past that), but I had never seen an action shot of him in a Royals uniform until I stumbled across this shot from the Lawrence-Journal World dated September 5th, 1987. This is from Melido’s first major league start:
Melido said of the start, “No, I was not nervous. I feel good. It’s the same game, the same ball. Nothing is different. ” He made three starts with the Royals that September, going 1-1 with a 7.84 ERA and 60 ERA+. Not the most auspicious of starts.
1988 Fleer Update
The Royals dealt him to the White Sox in the offseason along with Chuck Mount, John Davis, and Greg Hibbard for Floyd Bannisterand Dave Cochrane. Given how careers panned out there, I’d say the White Sox won that deal, but apparently Floyd Bannister was the prize of the deal; the Yankees were even in on trying to pry him away from the White Sox, ultimately settling for the deal that sent Dan Pasqua to the Sox for Richard Dotson (both of whom will show up in the team posts). Said Steinbrenner at the time, ”I was for the left-hander, but I was a lone voice. We might have been able to get Bannister now, but they wanted prospects and I can’t hock everybody.” Kind of dispels some of the notion of George the Tyrant, but anyway, Perez was a White Sox player now, and would make his regular-season debut with the team on April 8th at the Kingdome, ultimately beating the Mariners by a 3-2 score, despite giving up two home runs and getting a no-decision thanks to lousy run support.
1988 Score Rookie & Traded
Perez’s best game of 1988, arguably, would be his October 1st outing against the Royals (oh, irony) when he threw a complete-game, two-hit shutout, striking out ten Royals hitters, including two strikeouts apiece for Danny Tartabull and Willie Wilson. In a rare show of strength in his next-to-last major league game, Mike Diaz had two RBI to help Perez bring in the win. Perez ended 1988 with a 12-10 record to go with a 3.79 ERA (somewhat aided by his team’s defense), 138 Ks in 197 IP, a 2.1 WAR, and a 105 ERA+. A pretty damn good showing for a rookie pitcher, but it would not be his finest season.
1988 Topps Traded
Melido was with the White Sox until 1991, when he was dealt to the Yankees with Domingo Jean and Bob Wickman for Steve Sax. The Yankees would end up dominating this trade, with Perez having his finest years in pinstripes. In 1992, he struck out 218 in 247 innings and posted a 138 ERA+, the highest of his career. 1993 was a down year, but he rebounded well in 1994 before dropping off in 1995 and then disappearing from the majors due to elbow surgery. He tried to make it back in 1996, but never regained his old abilities.
Wow, lots to choose from here, but I’m going with the Topps card as my favorite, even if I find the White Sox color scheme…bizarre.
And that does it for Phase 1 of the 1988 Project! I never thought I’d reach this point…it’s all downhill from here. Look for the Team Posts to start very soon.